Murat Celebi-Ariner, the owner of the popular Amuse Bouche street cart, said Sunday at the Yuba County Jail “my wife and my life are here,” in the United States
“We decided this is where we were going to be and open a business,” said Celebi-Ariner, over a phone from the inside of a thick, soundproof glass booth. Dressed in a red, prison-issued jump suit, his hair disheveled, the tall, lanky pastry chef was anxious to spend his visiting time with his wife.
The 37-year-old pastry chef said he spent two nights with the general jail population before being transferred to a section where other ICE detainees are held.
“They treated me like a criminal my first day,” he said. “But they’ve been good to me here at Yuba.”
He said that jail administrators have accommodated his health restrictions. The pastry chef has gallstones and can’t eat fats.
Yuba County Jail, which sits in the middle of the town of Marysville, lives up to its minimum-security status. There were no metal detectors and children who came to visit ran freely, swinging the door between the waiting and visiting room. The only security in sight was an older woman who remained inside her soundproof cubicle, checking IDs.
Prisoners and their visitors, however, had to speak through thick glass.
Of the 374 detainees being held at the jail, 160 detainees are waiting on immigration proceedings.
“A lot of people are here for the same reason. They are here for overstaying their visas,” said Celebi-Ariner.
One of them, a man from Iran, applied for a green card 10 years ago and recently had his request denied. The 70-year-old man, who owns a home in Sacramento, was immediately arrested to be deported, his friend said. After two weeks at Yuba, the Iranian immigrant just wants ICE to send him back to Tehran.
Celebi-Ariner was beginning to share the same sentiment, but said he was trying to stay positive.
His journey from France to the Yuba County Jail began in March of last year when he followed his then-girlfriend Pelin Ariner to the Mission District. At that point they weren’t positive their relationship would lead to marriage, so he decided to enter the country on the Visa Waiver Program.
By summer, he had over-stayed his visa, but neither saw it has an insurmountable problem. The couple married in August, but put off Celebi-Ariner’s visa application – something that takes time and money.
On Wednesday, ICE showed up at their doorstep and took Celebi-Ariner away in handcuffs.
Mrs. Celebi-Ariner rented a car in the East Bay on Friday and stayed with friends near Marysville all weekend so that she could make visiting hours. Upset but trying to keep it together, she pulled on her boots outside her rental car and ran pomade through her hair before entering the jail. She carried a copy of Hero With a Thousands Faces by Joseph Campbell in her hand.
Visiting hours at the county jail are only an hour and a half twice a week. Celebi-Ariner spoke briefly with Mission Loc@l, but was anxious to spend the time alone with his wife.
He said he is trying to stay optimistic about a possible decision Monday to defer his deportation. If a court decides in his favor, he would have time to get a green card.
His wife said there was a chance her husband would be released Monday. “If not he will be deported and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to that. The third possibility is that they’ll keep him in jail for a while but that to me is the worst.”
Earlier, her husband tried to be upbeat. “In the few days that I’ve been here, I’ve learned to be patient,” said the Frenchman.